November 18, 1996 12:00 PM

TO BE YOUNG IS ALL THERE IS IN THE WORLD. THE REST IS NONSENSE,” WROTE THE POET WALLACE STEVENS BACK IN 1907. IT’S A SENTIMENT EVERY PRODUCER NORTH OF WILSHIRE Boulevard should enter in his PowerBook. Everywhere you look—studio lots in the Valley, trendy bistros on Melrose, swank shops under the palms and the covers of magazines around the world—many of the stars shining brightest are breathlessly young. Full of sass and vinegar, they bubble with fresh attitudes toward their profession and in their private lives. “This new generation is less concerned with the celebrity of it all,” says personal manager Erwin More of More Medavoy Management. “They’re interested in good work.” Each age gradually gives way to another, but in today’s Hollywood an unprecedented relay race to the box office is under way. Star warrior Harrison Ford, 54, hands off the leading-man baton to sleeper Brad Pitt, 32 (the two star in next year’s thriller The Devil’s Own); 40-year-old Tom Hanks anoints 26-year-old nice guy Tom Everett Scott in That Thing You Do!; 1992’s Catwoman Michelle Pfeiffer, 38, passes the slinky spandex to 1997’s Bat-girl Alicia Silverstone, 20. What makes a star today? Says casting director Janet Hirshenson of the Casting Company: “Somebody who can be your best friend, or somebody with a dangerous sexuality.” To explore this new galaxy, PEOPLE presents a Who’s Who of the young, the restless and the remarkable under 35. One of the most liberating aspects of the current scene, says producer Dale Pollock (Mrs. Winterbourne), is that “actors can go back and forth between film and TV and still remain successful. It used to be if you did TV, there was nothing else left for you.” Among our Top 10 Players, 34-year-old comedian Jim Carrey elbowed into the big time from the tube (In Living Color) to become a feature-film ace at $20 million per picture. Hard on his heels are fresher faces like Jennifer Aniston, 27, who fits in movies such as She’s the One during breaks in her Friends shooting schedule, and Scott Wolf, 28, who made the feature Evening Star during time off from his series Party of Five. So many of TV’s major players are now in their 20s and 30s that “it’s like the old days at MGM,” says Erwin More. “You go from soundstage to soundstage and there’s a sense of camaraderie.”

We polled our Los Angeles correspondents as well as more than two dozen agents, casting directors, managers and other industry insiders to handicap 30 up-and-comers who are pushing the Hollywood envelope. Among them: former Playboy Playmate Jenny McCarthy, 24; Broadway import Billy Crudup, 28; and Scottish-born trainspotter Ewan McGregor, 25. Having a famous name doesn’t hurt either. Freddie Prinze Jr., 20, is proving that he’s as talented as his dad, the ’70s TV star. Whatever their route to the top, though, they left us with one conclusion: The kids are all right.

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